A Review of Wild Kiwi New Zealand Bus Tours
Travelling by road is the best way to travel New Zealand, hands down. But what if you can’t drive, don’t want to travel alone or just hate taking the bus? Well, we think we’ve found the right bus tour for you. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that Wild Kiwi is the bus tour for people who hate bus tours. With luxury vehicles with ultra-modern features, small groups of 18-35-year-olds and a great balance of socialising and exploring, Wild Kiwi is certainly an alternative way of experiencing this breathtaking country. But why is this bus tour so different from all the other bus tours that also claim to be “different”? We’ll go through the main points in this review of what it is really like to travel with Wild Kiwi.
Before we begin, don’t forget to bookmark Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide for even more tips.
When and Where to Book a Wild Kiwi Tour
Wild Kiwi run tours around New Zealand with frequent departure dates, making it easy to book a tour that’s suitable for when you wish to travel.
How Far in Advance Should I Book a Wild Kiwi Tour?
Tour departures are every Saturday of the year. It’s possible to book your tour about one year and six months before departure – ideal for your forward planners! Last-minute bookings are usually doable in the low season, between June and September. It’s likely that you will need to book at least a month ahead of departure during the shoulder season, between April and May, November and October.
For those wishing to travel in the busy season, between December and March, we recommend booking as soon as possible, especially as these popular tours with a maximum of only 18 seats available get booked up quickly. What’s more, you only need to pay a deposit when booking and the full amount eight weeks before departure.
Where to Book a Wild Kiwi Tour
It’s best to book your Wild Kiwi tour before arriving in New Zealand via the Wild Kiwi website or on tour comparison websites like TourRadar that have frequent discounts. Once your booking is complete, you can manage the booking through the website and the team will keep in touch in the lead-up to the trip.
Wild Kiwi Passengers: Who Goes on the Wild Kiwi Tours?
Travelling on a bus tour around New Zealand is an extremely social experience, so you’re going to want to know who you are travelling with. Wild Kiwi is a bus tour exclusively for 18 to 35-year-olds, but beyond that, it’s hard to define an exact “type” of traveller. Passengers come from all over the world and from different backgrounds.
With small groups of up to just 18 people on one tour, the dynamic often involves the entire group, rather than splitting off into cliques like on some of the larger bus tours in New Zealand – that’s why it’s one of our top recommendations for solo travel in New Zealand. The trips have a good balance of exploring, doing activities and socialising, so you never feel like you get sick of doing one thing. An important thing to note is that Wild Kiwi isn’t a 24/7 booze-up. Sure, there are a few beers shared, but Wild Kiwi passengers tend to be like-minded in the fact that they want to remain fresh for making the most of the experience, rather than fumbling through New Zealand with a hangover.
Is it Really a “Bus Tour”?
The easiest way to describe Wild Kiwi is that it’s a “bus tour”, but it’s probably not the best way to describe it. “Bus tours” conjure up images of large coaches with rigid seats and “are we there yet” thoughts. That’s definitely not what Wild Kiwi is about. Their luxury Mercedes Sprinters are the most badass buses touring New Zealand, featuring cosy leather seats, USB ports, unlimited WiFi and large windows to soak in the scenery (blacked out so you kind of feel like a movie star).
Why Your Vehicle Matters
With so many awesome sights and activities scattered across the country, any trip in New Zealand involves a lot of travelling. Being on the road is a huge aspect of your trip! The Wild Kiwi vehicles make the journey feel more like an awesome activity in itself, rather than just going from A to B.
Accommodation on the Wild Kiwi Tours
Bus tours in New Zealand aimed at 18-30-something-year-olds usually stay in hostel accommodation but with Wild Kiwi, it’s the creme-de-la-creme of backpacker accommodation around New Zealand – more like “flashpackers”. Although the accommodation you stay in with Wild Kiwi is never somewhere you stay for too long, it’s usually the best-rated of each town, located in the secluded wilderness when it matters, or on the waterfront conveniently in the centre of town when it matters.
What are Wild Kiwi Guides Like?
Guides make or break a trip, especially considering you have the same guide for the entire duration of the tour. However, we’ve only ever had positive experiences with the Wild Kiwi guides; they are friendly knowledgeable people who are actually from New Zealand!
The guides work hard to cater to what the group wants while surprising with short detours off the itinerary to take you to off-the-beaten-track places. They really know their backyard well. Often it’s the places that we didn’t know about that became the most memorable aspects of the trip!
Where Does Wild Kiwi Go?
With Wild Kiwi, you can tour the North Island, the South Island or both. Tours last for 7, 14 and 21 days. They are among some of the top tours listed in our: The 10 Best 7-Day Tours of New Zealand and The Best 20+ Days (3-4 Weeks) Tours of New Zealand.
Here’s a quick overview of the locations Wild Kiwi visits.
Wild Kiwi Destinations on the North Island
Raglan – a bohemian town famous for its surfing.
Waitomo – home to New Zealand’s most spectacular glowworm caves.
Taupo – New Zealand’s largest lake with an amazing sailing cruise to enjoy with your new travel mates.
Rotorua – a geothermal and Maori cultural hotspot.
Coromandel – home to some of New Zealand’s most stunning beaches.
Wild Kiwi Destinations on the South Island
Hanmer Springs – a picturesque alpine hot springs town.
Kaikoura – a mecca for marine wildlife, including seals, whales and dolphins.
Abel Tasman National Park – golden sand beaches, azure waters and lush forest!
Punakaiki – a tiny town on the edge of the wild West Coast and home to the Pancake Rocks.
Hokitika – greenstone capital of New Zealand where you’ll get to see the vibrant blue waters of Hokitika Gorge.
Christchurch – the largest city in the South Island with awesome eateries and nightlife.
Franz Josef – famous for its glacier heli-hiking tours
Queenstown – also known as the “Adventure Capital”. Get ready to bungy jump, skydive, jet boat, raft and more!
Milford Sound – cruise through glacier-carved valleys in some of the most dramatic scenery of the country.
Aoraki Mt Cook – see New Zealand’s highest mountains and longest glacier.
8 Best Tours with Wild Kiwi: Which Tour to Pick?
Wild Kiwi offers eight different trips to adventure-seekers wanting to experience both the highlights of New Zealand, as well as some lesser-known gems that the guides can’t wait to share with you. Choose from three 7-day tours, three 14-day tours or a 21-day blast around the whole country.
1. Southern Voyager – 7 Days on the South Island
If you like big mountains, big adrenaline activities and big adventures then consider hopping on the Southern Voyager Tour. This tour includes the major highlights of the South Island with the most extreme scenery: Franz Josef Glacier, Queenstown, Milford Sound and more! In fact, the itinerary is almost identical to the one we recommend in The Best Way to Spend 7 Days in the South Island.
2. Southern Loop – 7 Days on the South Island
Pristine golden sand beaches, rugged wave-carved cliffs and a marine mammal mecca all await at the northern end of the South Island. On the Southern Loop, you’ll get some of the best coastal experiences New Zealand has to offer with the famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Abel Tasman National Park, Kaikoura and more!
3. Northern Voyager – 7 Days on the North Island
The Maori culture, geothermal hot spots, stunning beaches and glowworm caves are just some of the highlights of exploring the North Island. Wild Kiwi uncovers all of this, plus surfing in Raglan and getting off the beaten track in the wine-lovers city of Napier in the Northern Voyager tour.
4. Ski Voyager – 7 Days on the South Island
Spend the week skiing or snowboarding at the epic ski fields of Queenstown and Wanaka. Then, top it all off with some awesome winter sightseeing like hiking on the Franz Josef Glacier and revelling in the scenery of Lake Tekapo. It’s all available on the Ski Voyager tour!
5. New Zealand Explorer – 14 days around New Zealand
More time means more everything! Experience both epic alpine scenery and adrenaline activities in the Southern Voyager trip AND the cultural, geothermal and glowworm cave hot spots from the Northern Voyager trip. What’s more, the flight between the North Island and South Island is included on the New Zealand Explorer tour.
6. Big South – 14 Days on the South Island
Don’t miss a thing in the South Island with the fortnight Big South trip encompassing highlights from both the Southern Voyager tour AND the Southern Loop tour! Beaches, wildlife, mountains, fiords, adrenaline activities: it has it all.
7. NZ Adventurer – 14 Days around New Zealand
Explore both New Zealand islands, from the magnificent coastal experiences of the South Island’s Abel Tasman, Kaikoura and West Coast to the North Island’s beautiful Coromandel and Raglan beaches. Plus, you’ll get to experience the local culture and geothermal parks of the North Island too with this tour encompassing both the Southern Loop trip AND the Northern Voyager trip. Plus, the flight between the islands is included. Check out the NZ Adventurer tour on Tourradar.
8. NZ Discovery – 21 days around New Zealand
This is the big one! Tick off everything from your New Zealand bucket list on this 3-week NZ Discovery Tour which combines all the Wild Kiwi routes into one with a flight between the islands included! Sounds pretty epic, right?
Now, all there is to do is compare tour routes, reviews and more over on the Wild Kiwi page of TourRadar!
More About Wild Kiwi Tours in New Zealand
That’s it for our Wild Kiwi review! For more about bus tours in New Zealand, take a look at the following guides:
- The 15 Best Bus Tours in New Zealand
- The 10 Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand
- The 10 Best Small Group Tours in New Zealand
Finally, complete all your bus travel research with our guide, Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.